Briton shot dead at New Year party

Times Series: British tourist Stephen Ashton was shot dead as he danced with friends on the Thai island of Koh Phangan British tourist Stephen Ashton was shot dead as he danced with friends on the Thai island of Koh Phangan

A British tourist has been shot dead at a New Year's Eve party in Thailand after getting caught in the crossfire of a gun fight between local gangs.

Stephen Ashton, 22, is said to have been killed as he danced with friends at a beach bar on the paradise island of Koh Phangan.

He is thought to have been caught in the crossfire when a fight erupted between two local gangs at Haad Rin Beach.

Confirming the identity of the victim, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of the death of a British national in Thailand on New Year's Eve and we are providing consular assistance to the family."

Police Colonel Kittakarn Kramomthong, chief of Koh Phangan station, told the Bangkok Post that Mr Ashton was with a group of friends and 300 other tourists at the 2013 countdown party at a pub and restaurant called the Zoom Bar when he was shot by a home-made gun shortly after 4am.

The newspaper said Mr Ashton was visiting the island with four or five friends and was staying at Pink Bungalow on Haad Rin. Tributes have been paid on social networking sites as friends expressed their shock at hearing the news.

Aaron Kelly wrote on Facebook: "Horrible news. Be good up there mate."

Jaydon Gibbs said on Twitter: "My heart is with his family. The nicest guy RIP Stephen Ashton xx"

Another Twitter user, Dean DeRosa, said: "Worst news for the start of 2013 ! R.I.P Stephen Ashton ! Was a good lad !!"

Robbie-Cameron Gray took to Mr Ashton's Facebook page to express his grief and posted a photograph of the two of them as young boys. He said: "Don't want to believe it. Still got photos of us on my wall from football and school. Will miss you mate."

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